Service Learning Ideas For Secondary Content Areas

The following lists were compiled by Mesa educators. 
They come from a variety of experiences
and resources from our district, the state and the country.
We hope teachers will be sparked by these ideas.

* Display art work at hospitals, senior centers, nursing homes, and shelters.
* Create bowls for an "Empty Bowls" fundraiser at your school.
* Assemble and deliver craft kits to a local nursing home.
* Visit residents of a nursing home or senior center and draw portraits. Ask questions about their lives while drawing. Exhibit finished work.
* Paint over graffiti-covered walls.
* Make table decorations for a meal center to cheer the hungry and homeless.
* Repaint old playground equipment.
* Sponsor an after school art program.
* Collect art supplies for children of communities in need.
* Illustrate phonics flash cards to use in literacy programs.


* Organize an intergenerational prom for teens and senior citizens.
* Create publicity materials for a walk-a-thon.
* Provide supplies for a school for children living in poverty.
* Create a web site or posters to encourage a theme such as "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." 
* Type letters on behalf of persons in nursing homes and shelters on a laptop computer. 
* Design a business plan for a non-profit organization.
* Create a school store with products made or donated by students; use the proceeds to fund local needs or service projects.
* Start a business in class. Develop a product, sell stock, start production, market the product, and donate the proceeds to a community organization.
* Write a grant to help a local organization: assess the clients' needs, research funding sources, write grants, and follow-through with the projects.


Computer and Media Technology
* Produce a Power Point presentation or video on a current topic that needs to be publicized to a youth audience.
* Develop educational computer games that reinforce school curriculum for different grades and subjects.
* Teach computer skills to peers, younger children, parents or senior citizens.
* Develop lesson plans and teach a lesson in one of the content areas to high school, middle school or elementary school students on the Internet.
* Design and distribute brochures that provide needed information to the public (e.g. safety tips, neighborhood welcome, drowning prevention, etc.).
* Create a manual to teach others how to recycle.
* Produce newsletters for nursing homes.
* Develop learning programs and computer games for use by children who are physically or mentally challenged.
* Gather and repair computers which then get donated to schools or non-profit organizations.
* Enter data into a computer business system for nonprofit organizations.
* Set up email pen pals with foreign students and discuss community issues in different countries.


* Tutor younger students in reading or writing.
* Create a newsletter for a nursing home, including pictures and personality profiles of the person.
* Research a problem and propose a solution. Take action as an individual or group based on your proposed solution.
* Write a play on discrimination and perform it for other students.
* Write storybooks, pamphlets, videos or commercials with a positive theme for a chosen audience.
* Read books on tape for struggling readers or the blind.
* Write an advocacy letter to the city council or state legislature on a current issue.
* Establish a pen pal project with a class of younger students. Write letters and send cards. Culminate the project with a visit/meeting after a period of writing.
* Research and report on the connections between literacy and crime.
* Write 30 second commercials opposing drugs, gangs, tobacco, etc. and offer them to radio or TV stations.
* Create a booklet of ideas for fundraising to be used by school service clubs.


Family and Consumer Sciences
* Tutor children at a local elementary school, day care center, or homeless shelter. 
* Offer workshops on cooking, shopping, sewing, or babysitting during an after-school or summer program.
* Develop brochures about nutrition and distribute them to senior centers or the YMCA.
* Design an intercultural cookbook and share it or sell it and donate the profits to a family-oriented charity.
* Collect and repair clothing, socks, shoes, hygiene kits, cleaning products, or household items and donate them to an elementary school or shelter.
* Cook and deliver meals to needy families, senior citizens, or disabled people. Try to get parents involved.
* Work with residents of public shelters to fix up and decorate living areas. This could also be done with individual families.
* Develop brochures and lesson plans on parenting, budgeting, "Dress of Success," child abuse, domestic violence, or drug abuse. Teach these topics to teen mothers, peers, and families.
* Make dolls, pillows, quilts, or stuffed animals and donate them.
* Write letters to the editor about child abuse, elderly abuse, hunger, and lack of parenting skills.

Foreign Language
* Translate brochures or announcements for community events.
* Design and write children's story books in another language and have the English translation included.
* Translate important government, or other documents, into languages used by local residents or tourists.
* Respond to Santa letters from non-English speaking children.
* Orient new ELL students (English Language Learners) to the school.
* Assist non-English speaking adults at voter registration tables.
* Tutor younger students in their foreign language classes.
* Help at a homeless shelter or day care center for those who don't speak English.
* Teach children foreign language phrases and songs in a school or non-profit setting.
* Use the Welcome Wagon theme and give a welcome basket of goods and information (in English and the family's native language) to new students and their families for whom English is a second language.
* Volunteer in an elementary classroom needing a translator in the language you are learning.
* Assist with elementary school field trips, serving as the guide for ELL or hearing impaired students.
* Interpret for hearing impaired adults or children.
Industrial Technology
* Repair homes, cars, small engines, appliances, computers, bicycles, toys and other items. Advertise the service through public service announcements, cable television, radio and the Internet.
* After surveying and discussing the available technology and needs of children, elderly, handicapped or the homeless, make or repair adaptable equipment for schools, senior centers, or shelters.
* Help design and build physically challenged access on the school campus or at local parks and buildings.
* Collect and recycle tools and household items and teach others how to use them.
* Create toys or useful household items during a mass production unit and donate them to those in need.
* Learn construction, computer, and geometry skills by designing and building homes, planters, bird feeders, bus stop shelters, furniture or other needed items.
* Work with the city government to build or adopt nature trails, gardens, restrooms, and playground equipment.
* Check and repair safety equipment (fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, security systems, locks, wiring, GFCI) in the homes of the elderly.
* Plan and conduct an automotive repair clinic and teach peers or adults how to change a tire, check engine fluids, and other simple automotive maintenance and repair.


* Tutor younger children or peers in math skills.
* Create and distribute board games, computer games or hands-on activities that teach and reinforce math skills. Donate them to a class or non-profit organization.
* Create tables and graphs (on posters, web sites or bulletin boards) on current issues that motivate others to take action to solve the problem.
* Interview adults in various careers about how they use math in their jobs and publish the results in a brochure or booklet for other students.
* Do a variety of calculations on food collected in a school-wide drive: ounces, pounds, number of meals provided, cost equivalency, etc. Share the information with the people who made the donations.
* Make a quilt or other sewing items to be donated while applying lessons of geometry and measurement.
* Calculate the number of rolls of toilet paper needed by a family in one year and then do a collection of toilet paper to donate.
* Graph the local temperatures by month and coordinate collections to match seasonal needs (e.g. blankets in winter, hats in summer, etc.).
* Develop budgets, spreadsheets, tables and graphs on service activities.
* Perform accounting tasks or statistical analysis for a non-profit or service organization.


Performing Arts - Drama
* Teach any performing art to younger children, people with disabilities or to interested peers or adults.
* Invite local retirement center residents to attend school performances on campus during the school day. Invite them to share lunch afterwards.
* Research and write plays or TV commercials about current events or community issues.
* Perform plays on current issues such as tobacco or drug use and then facilitate discussion about these topics.
* Use theater games to help peers develop communication, listening and other important skills.
* Create and perform a puppet show on a particular issue in order to educate the audience on the topic.
* Write, produce, and perform a "living history" play for a local museum.
* Put on a vaudeville show for or with senior citizens. 
* Produce a dinner theater for homeless families at a local church or soup kitchen.
* Compose one-act plays in which a senior citizen and a student act together by reversing roles as a strategy for intergenerational understanding.
* "Perform" books or plays on tapes and donate the tapes (with books included if possible) to a school, shelter, hospital, or neighborhood.


Performing Arts - Music
* Research popular music of the 20's, 30's, and 40's. Invite senior citizens to a special concert, or make tapes of the music to send to nursing homes or senior centers.
* Sponsor an intergenerational dance or prom and play music both groups enjoy and can dance to.
* Teach children songs from different cultures at a local elementary school.
* Create/write songs or raps on an important theme and perform or record the music.
* Put on a concert and donate the collected items to the cause. Admission can be canned food, books, cash, etc.
* Sponsor and organize a community fair with local youth and adult musicians.
* Work with community members to write organization or community theme songs or jingles.
* Learn to perform a song in sign language and include it in a concert.
* Serve as an aide to an elementary or junior high school music teacher.
* Plan and staff a summer music program for younger children.


Physical Education/Health/Prevention
* Coach, referee or keep score for a youth sports team.
* Organize a health and fitness fair with hands-on activities.
* Collect personal hygiene items for children and adults in shelters.
* Organize and lead a community fundraiser such as "Jump Rope for Heart" or "Cancer Relay for Life."
* Lead games and sports activities for shelters or community centers.
* Create posters, Power Point shows or brochures on health and fitness topics and distribute them to the school or the greater community.
* Volunteer in a hospital or hospice.
* Learn games appropriate for senior citizens and conduct a "games morning" at a senior center. Chair exercises are fun.
* Set up sports or cheer clinics.


* Tutor younger students in reading. Teach them skills, read to them, and have them read to you.
* Read to the elderly at a nursing home.
* Read and analyze a story related to bias. Interview a person who has been subjected to prejudice or discrimination about his/her experiences.
* Collect and distribute children's books for a homeless shelter.
* Write and illustrate children's books and take them to a public day care center to read and donate to the children.
* Make audio tapes of books and distribute them through the local library to visually impaired patrons.
* Design and write attractive synopses of books you have read for the local library.


* Develop a recycling program at school.
* Adopt a nearby lake, river, or stream for research, pollution testing or maintenance.
* Make compost on school grounds and use it to enhance the school's flowerbeds.
* Plant a garden with or for senior citizens that includes plants that are familiar and safe to the elderly, have pleasant scents for those who are visually impaired, and stir up memories. Build and plant adjustable planters that can be brought to wheelchair laps. 
* Create a book of simple scientific activities for young children to do at home. 
* Work with a local humane society, zoo or nature center to assist injured animals or care for healthy ones.
* Produce videotapes, books, plays, web sites, or puppet shows for young children on selected scientific topics.
* Create a botanical garden at your school that includes native plants. Design plaques to identify the plants.
* Design yard landscaping that requires very little watering. Use your design to landscape a senior citizen's or handicapped person's yard.
* Create a book for children that teaches them about healthy food for their bodies.



Social Studies
* Research a problem in the community and take action to solve the problem.
* Distribute voter registration information.
* Track and publish the voting record of local elected officials.
* Research the candidates in a campaign and teach younger children about the candidates to prepare them for Kids Voting. Volunteer at a Kids Voting poll.
* Work on a political campaign.
* Write lobbying letters to government leaders or the newspaper editor on a concern that needs to be addressed in the community.
* Research a non-profit agency and where its services fit into the community. Design a project to benefit the agency.
* Research the indigenous people of your region of the country. Participate in a dig at a site of ancient ruins.
* Research an immigrant culture. Write a story, design a lesson and create a game to share with elementary students on that culture.
* Paint a world or country map on the playground of an elementary school.
* Create a game to use a playground map to teach the children the continents and nations of the world.
* Use the Close-Up "ACT" curriculum to design a class-based or school-based project.
* Participate in a local march or action concerning a civil rights issue.
* Survey other students on an issue of concern to them and share that information with local policy makers.
* Compile oral histories about a time or event in American History.
* Write a pamphlet or teach newly employed people, including teens, about managing personal finances and balancing a checkbook.
* Make flash cards on Social Studies terms for elementary and/or junior high students.